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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers


(On if he will rest starters in Week 17 to prepare them for the playoffs or play them to try and secure the fifth seed in the playoffs)

"We're going to play to win. Eleven and five, that's very rare. To have a chance to get to 11-5, keep that seeding – we want that seeding just for pride. We don't care who we play, it's more for pride. I'd probably have to beat some guys in the head with a stick to try and get them not to play anyway. I talked to them about it before and [they said], 'I'm playing.' We're going to practice and play like everything depends on it. It's not going to be an easy game, either."

(On if RB Ronald Jones II is on track to play this week)

"Your guess is as good as mine still. I haven't been able to talk to him. Hopefully he's clearing the COVID [protocols] and we can get him into the building to look at him and see if he can play with [his injury]. I've got my fingers crossed that we can get him a bunch of game action this week, but I'm not going to risk it [if he is] not able to protect himself."

(On the importance of being honest with his players)

"I think for me, being an interim head coach for 12 games, there's two things I learned – be yourself and delegate. I don't think you're going to find a player, hopefully, in Arizona that ever said I [wasn't honest with] him and there's not going to be a player here [either]. Sometimes you don't like the truth, but I'm going to give you the truth and it'll hurt for a minute, but it's real. Don't come ask me a question and think I'm going to sugarcoat it, because you're going to get the real answer. I think our guys appreciate that."

(On players who may not be available for Sunday's game due to injury)

"We're still sorting through that right now. Carlton [Davis III] made some good progress at the end of the week. He did make the trip [to Detroit] but was like, 'No, we're not pushing it.' Mike [Edwards] got a hip pointer. We won't know how serious it is until we get out on the field Wednesday. We rested Sean [Murphy-Bunting because] Sean's been playing with a bunch of nagging stuff. We were able to get him out of the game and Herb Miller got his interception, so that was great to see a young guy do it. We'll wait and see. 48 hours is a lot of time with the type of injuries we're talking about."

(On the importance of having a strong run defense in the postseason)

"I think it's huge. We always talk about running and stopping the run. Running the ball is just your efficiency – not the number of yards or the number of times you run it. It's your efficiency, closing out games, things like that. Run defense, it's what we're built on. Todd [Bowles] has done a great job of that and we share that philosophy – always have."

(On the 47.0 sacks the defense has recorded this season and how that total compares to his expectations coming into the season)

"I think it's what we're capable [of], but I think we're actually capable of more. We've let some quarterbacks get away from us when we had hands on them. Again, it is multiple. When you've got Will [Gholston], [Ndamukong] Suh, the other three guys and [Jeremiah] Ledbetter getting one – whoever's getting one-on-one, you better win. The multiplicity of that, I think, is what makes it dangerous. You can't chip all five guys – you can only chip one of them – so they're usually chipping JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) or Shaq [Barrett]. That multiplicity of being able to bring different people makes you kind of unique. When you stop the run, you get the chance to rush the passer. That's the whole point – stop the run and let's get after them. It's a two-handed fist."

(On what has allowed TE Rob Gronkowski's production to increase over the course of the season)

"I was a little concerned last week because he didn't take a day off. I wanted him to – just getting him fresh at the ballgame. That's [the case] for most veteran players, especially this time of year – having them fresh enough at game [time]. Watching him in practice – other people don't see him at practice – I see him making these plays [and] it's just whether or not they come up in game. There's been matchups that we've had that, 'Man, if they played a different coverage because we knew we had him.' This one, we got the matchup we were looking for and [it was] a great throw [and] a great catch. That's what he's capable [of] – he's been that way all year, it just hasn't shown up in games every week and we didn't get the matchup."

(On special moments that took place in the postgame celebration following Saturday's win)

"It was very touching. I did my little two cents and then Lavonte [David] was going off – it was awesome. Then, Mike Evans just dove over the top and said, 'We're in! We love you Lavonte, but we're in!' It was really cool. The joy on their faces – especially those guys that have been here – makes coming back to coaching well, well worth it."

(On the decision between wanting to rest players for the postseason or keeping momentum by playing everyone in the season finale)

"That was kind of [why we] got Tom [Brady] out at halftime even though he didn't want to come out [along with] Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) and some of those other guys last week [to] get some young players some reps. When you make these decisions – and I've been a part of both sides – that five and six seed are different. I don't care what anybody says – they're different – and 10-6 [versus] 11-5 are different. I've been 10-6 a bunch – been 10-6 and didn't make the playoffs. Eleven and five is special. I think our guys are more than ready to go."

(On how the postseason experience of veteran players other than QB Tom Brady will help the team moving forward)

"I said it last week – it was a different aura at practice last week. Even with Christmas, you could feel it. You could feel the want and desire of Lavonte [David] and those guys, but you could feel the Brady's, the Gronk's (Rob Gronkowski) and A.B. (Antonio Brown) also. [Ndamukong] Suh turning it up a notch and those guys felt it. They know, 'Hey, these guys [have] been there and done it. I'm with you.' I think it's an invaluable thing to have these veteran guys who have been there and done it. It's one thing for a coach, 'Hey, I've got a couple of rings.' But, it isn't like Tom, Gronk and guys that are in the trenches with them. It's different when you're in that locker room."

(On if the offense looked to change its process on early downs following the Bye Week)

"I've been very, very pleased with it. It was a focus [and] one of the things, when you look at the breakdowns and some of the deficiencies in what we were trying to address after the Bye Week – that being one of them. Third downs only occur if you don't make first downs on first and second down. We can fix that third down thing real quick – stay out of them and get the ball pushed up the field a little bit more and being efficient – more efficiency in the running game. So there has been an effort."

(On where this season and postseason appearance stacks up to previous seasons in his coaching career)

"I think our guys made a commitment in August to each other, that if we beat the virus, we'd have a chance. If we stayed healthy, we'd have a chance to beat some teams that didn't. Last week was an example [of that]. The season is not over. This is a big game coming up – a chance to keep that five seed and go 11-5. I think we'll think about all that when we can look in the rear-view mirror. Right now, we're still looking ahead. It's not really a time to reflect yet."

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